“In Spirit . . . Learn the Doctrine”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 29:35)

Oh, How precious must be the contents of a book which shall deliver us from all the errors taught by the precepts of uninspired men! Oh, how gratifying to poor, ignorant, erring mortals who have murmured because of the multiplicity of contradictory doctrines that have perplexed and distracted their minds, to read the plain, pure and most precious word of God, revealed in the Book of Mormon! It is like bread to the hungry—like the cool refreshing fountain to him that is ready to perish with thirst… . Let all that have murmured because of the uncertainty of the precepts of men, read the words of the book, and they “shall learn doctrine.”

(Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt’s Works: The Light of Understanding[salt Lake City: The Deseret News Press, 1945], 278–79.)

Do not be surprised when non-doers scoff… . When Jesus focused His hearers on doctrines, “they were astonished at his doctrine” (Matt. 22:33). The only cure for the doctrinal illiteracy of those who murmur will be to learn doctrine.

(Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1986, 36.)

In the Apocryphon of James, Jesus reportedly told an afflicted Peter and James, “If you consider how long the world existed before you, and how long it will exist after you, you will find that your life is one single day and your sufferings one single hour.”… How like what the Lord told suffering Joseph in jail: “My son, … thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment” (D&C 121:7).
One’s life, therefore, is brevity compared to eternity—like being dropped off by a parent for a day at school. But what a day! …
If we blend “longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2), some who “murmur” about the human predicament “shall learn doctrine” (Isa. 29:24; 2 Ne. 27:35)… .
One-dimensional man with only a one-dimensional view of the world will surely focus upon the cares of the world, yielding to the things of the moment… .
Premortality is not a relaxing doctrine… . Just because we were chosen “there and then,” surely does not mean we can be indifferent “here and now.” … Those called and prepared must also prove “chosen, and faithful.” (See Rev.17:14; D&C 121:34–36.)

(Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1985, 17.)

Some of us are too content with what we may already be doing. We stand back in the “eat, drink, and be merry” mode when opportunities for growth and development abound. We miss opportunities to build up the kingdom of God because we have the passive notion that someone else will take care of it. The Lord tells us that He will give more to those who are willing. They will be magnified in their efforts… . But to those who say, “We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” …
Church history includes incidents of priesthood holders of great capacity. A few were brilliant but also erratic and unreliable and so lost the spiritual gifts and talents with which the Lord had so richly endowed them. I would like to tell you about one such.
Samuel Brannan led some Saints around Cape Horn on the ship Brooklyn. They made a brief stop in Hawaii before docking at San Francisco Bay. He became convinced that the main body of the Saints should not settle in the Rocky Mountains but should go on to California. So he traveled east and encountered the first party of emigrants under the leadership of Brigham Young in Green River, Wyoming. He used all of his persuasive powers trying to convince Brigham Young to take advantage of the opportunities which he felt California offered. Brigham Young responded, “Let us go to California, and we cannot stay there over five years; but let us stay in the mountains, and we can raise our own potatoes, and eat them; and I calculate to stay here.” Brannan stayed with the main body of the Saints for a few days, but then, because he was headstrong and self-centered, in August of 1847 he headed back to California… .
Sam Brannan was not focused on building up the kingdom of God. Instead he was directed toward business and making money. He became the first millionaire in California, with numerous business ventures and extensive land holdings. Because he had been the leader of that group of Saints, President Young asked him to account for the tithing that he had collected from the members of the Church in California, including those involved in the gold rush, but he did not do so. Nor did he use those funds to establish the Church or to help the members there.
For a time and a season, Brannan was very successful in establishing enterprises and acquiring land for his own benefit, but eventually he fell on hard times. His family did not stay together. When he died he was alone, broken physically, spiritually, and financially. For 16 months no one claimed his body. Eventually it was placed in San Diego’s Mount Hope Cemetery. Sam Brannan accomplished much in his life, but in the end he paid a terrible price for not honoring his priesthood stewardship and having failed to follow the prophet of God.

(James E. Faust, Ensign, Nov. 2002, 50–51.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon